From the Editor: Feeding Team USA

As the 2024 Olympics approach, Editor-in-Chief Allison Rezendes checks in on the foodservice side.

Allison for WEB

In my house, I get to feed two athletes: my 16-year-old baseball player and 13-year-old volleyball player. And Brian Knutson, director of food and nutrition services for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, gets to feed Team USA. Ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, I caught up with Knutson to find out what kitchen his team will use, the equipment in it and what he loves about his job.

Knutson and his team, who includes Executive Chef Nick Lachman, four sous chefs and two dietitians, will provide meals for Team USA out of Athletica, a sports training center with a totally new dining facility, located just outside of Paris. The team began planning for the space years ago, of course, and Knutson played a hand in the design and equipment selection.

“One of the big differences between France and America is they don’t use any gas with a lot of their new green rules,” Knutson says. “All new builds are going away from gas. I’ve been in the industry for about 25 years and it’s always gas everything. To have to go to electric … it was a little bit of a change.”

Two key pieces of equipment he specified for Athletica were electric tilt skillets and combi ovens, both from the same global manufacturer, with multifunction features and labor-saving technologies. In fact, he installed identical models at his team’s home base, the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., so they could get familiar with the equipment.

“Being able to use the exact same equipment in both locations, to create recipes for that equipment specifically, to me, it’s a game-changer,” he says. “It takes a lot of the guesswork out of how the equipment works.”

Knutson enjoys traveling with Team USA and playing a part in feeding them. His team gets to know the athletes while at home in Colorado Springs. So when it’s time to compete in the games, the athletes see familiar faces. They don’t have to worry about where their food came from, who made it or if it’s safe. It’s one more competitive advantage. Knutson says he and his team appreciate how their food provides “the fuel for them to win.” I know just what he means.

ALLISON REZENDES
Editor-in-Chief
arezendes@fermag.com


3 THINGS

Take a closer look, by the numbers, at what it takes to feed Team USA at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris.

25,000

The number of meals Brian Knutson of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee estimates his team will produce for athletes and staff members on-site at Paris 2024. The true total will depend on how qualifications go, he says.

2,800

The number of pounds of pasta the team plans to prepare during the event. That’s one reason Knutson likes the tilt skillets, which do most of the work, including automatically lifting the pasta out of the water at the right moment.

10,000

The number of pounds of protein they will go through. Some of that protein might cook on a few gas grills and smokers that Knutson shipped to Paris to provide athletes with some American flavor. He contracted with a propane company to power them outside.

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